Honors presented in spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

By Carol Kinsley

A full day of activities on Jan. 18 honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. began in western Sussex County with a prayer breakfast at the Seaford Fire Hall sponsored by the Eastern Shore AFRAM. While being entertained by song and creative dance, some 200 people enjoyed a breakfast buffet catered by the Ladies Auxiliary of the Seaford Volunteer Fire Department. Thirteen-year-old Myleah Lofland of Salisbury won a standing ovation and demand for an encore with her animated recitation of poetry by Maya Angelou. The Twin Poets, Albert Mills and Nnamdi Chukwvocha of Wilmington, brought some in the audience to tears with their powerful original poetry, including "Why I Write," "Dreams Are Illegal in the Ghetto" and "I Just Want to See Our Children Smile Again." The twins declared, "the change we need does not come from Obama; it comes from a mother and a father." Seaford native Joy Oliver Hunt was the keynote speaker. Hunt was very active in her high school career at Seaford High School and at the University of Delaware where she earned a dual bachelor's degree. She remains committed to community service. She currently markets pharmaceuticals for Novo Nordisk as a Diabetes Care Specialist. She and her husband of three years, Jason Hunt, and their 10-month-old son live in Middletown. Hunt started her address with a prayer, urging her audience to believe in themselves, in others, but most of all, in God. Believing is having confidence in the truth, existence and reliability in someone, she said. It is confidence in something not seen. Hope alone is not enough, because it doesn't carry with it the confidence that faith does. Martin Luther King's dream, to be free at last, was only that powerful, Hunt said, and even dangerous to some, because he actually believed it was possible. One charismatic believer, truly convinced, can move others to believe. Hunt said oppression occurs when people who are stronger and faster convince others change what they believe convincing them, for example, that they cannot escape, should not escape and won't escape. "Believing transcends generations," she asserted. Many of those in the Bible who were delivered to the Promised Land were the children and grandchildren of those who wandered in the wilderness with Moses. "We are the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of those who made change.

We are, and we can, because they believed, a generation before us. What will we believe that the next generation can become? "The generation before us believed they could make change. We must first believe in ourselves. We must believe in others and believe in the best for others." Hunt wrapped up her speech with a story about a blind mule who did the seemingly impossible job of pulling a car out of a ditch, encouraged by her owner who called out commands to mules long gone that the blind mule thought were helping her. "When we bring out the best from others, it brings out the best from us," Hunt concluded. "Who knows what miracles you can achieve when you believe?" The recipient of the Martin Luther King Community Recognition Award, Tanya Ricketts-Smack, owner of Creative Concepts Childcare in Seaford, was introduced by her son, Bruce Ricketts. Extremely ambitious even as a child, she developed an unflappable desire to excel in all she attempted. That included her pursuit of higher education to fulfill her dream of becoming an early childhood psychologist. She anticipates receiving her masters in education in school counseling from Wilmington University this spring. For her efforts in preparing children at her daycare for a successful academic and co-curricular life, she has received several awards, commendations and certificates of excellence. Ricketts-Smack has always been generous with her time and efforts to help in any enterprise that will have a positive impact on someone's life, including volunteering with Read-Aloud-Delaware, the AmeriCorps Vista Program, Girl Scouts and as a CASA volunteer not only in Delaware but in Worcester and Wicomico counties. A member of Macedonia AME Church, she also devotes her efforts as a member to the NAACP, the Eastern Star Organization, Seaford Kiwanis Club and the National Association of Childcare Professionals. Without demand for public acclaim, she has answered what the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. declared to be life's most persistent and urgent question: "What are you doing for others?" As honoree, Ricketts-Smack also received a state tribute presented by State Representative Dan Short and a city proclamation presented by Seaford Mayor Ed Butler.

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